Photo Courtesy Marisa Scheinfeld
Grass was growing in the indoor pool at the now shuttered Grossinger’s Resort Hotel when Marisa Scheinfeld took this photograph in 2012.
Photographing resorts' ruins
Story by Kristina Sumfleth
SULLIVAN COUNTY July 9, 2013 Sullivan County is home to a few of the many Borscht Belt resorts the Concord, Grossinger’s, the Pines that had their heyday in the 1950s and ’60s and is still known to many of the area’s residents.
Marisa Scheinfeld, a former resident of Kiamesha Lake, is one of the many who saw the slow decline of the resorts and even worked at the Concord as a lifeguard during her teen years. Now Scheinfeld has returned to the Catskills to document the lasting remains of the once flourishing industry.
Marisa Scheinfeld was born in Brooklyn and moved to Sullivan County at an early age with her parents. After picking up photography she graduated SUNY Albany and worked her way through an internship and eventually a teaching job at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.
“I was drawn to art at an early age,” explained Scheinfeld, “I took every art class in high school and then took a black and white photography class. I was immediately hooked, a camera felt like a natural fit.”
As Scheinfeld worked on a master’s degree she was instructed to “shoot what you know” by a professor which led her back to the Hudson Valley where she grew up. After living in the area as a child and spending time at the Concord and the Pines, Scheinfeld was curious about what was left.
“I knew the area had a rich history. I researched the old hotels which led to the hotel sites and started with re-photography (a technique where a new photo is taken from the same angle as an old photo). Then I would look around and see something interesting like a tree growing in a lobby and I just couldn’t not take a picture of it. Eventually the hotel’s formed a narrative for my own project,” said Scheinfeld.
Taking photographs of interesting subjects amongst the remaining bits of the old hotels has led to Scheinfeld’s project entitled “Leftover Borscht” and includes about 80 photos of the Concord, Grossinger’s, the Pines, Youngs Gap Hotel and more.
Many of the once great hotels and resorts have fallen into ruin or burned down completely, left only with the remnants of what was left from their golden period. In many of Scheinfeld’s photos nature seems to have begun reclaiming the sites, with grass growing around pool areas or plants breaking through the concrete.
“The project is about time and the life cycle and nature. It was a major industry of the area and it had such a huge influence,” stated Scheinfeld. “My hope for the project is that it brings attention to the area and even though the Borscht Belt has died they are alive in a different way.”
Scheinfeld will be in Sullivan County this week and will speak about the project at the Monticello Public Library on Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. and at the Main Street Gallery at the Liberty Museum and Arts Center in conjunction with the 12th annual Catskills Preservation and History Conference on Saturday, July 13th.